IEM Shanghai 2016 Pt 1.

IEM Shanghai 2016

The Intel Extreme Masters tournament has been a cornerstone tournament for Starcraft over the last few years, and IEM Shanghai was a good example of why that is the case. This year around they did something amazing by bringing the Kespa Proleague Grand Finals to the venue to be played immediately after the tournament Grand Finals. This tournament also had many of the top foreign hopefuls in it consisting of players like Showtime, Neeb, and Nerchio to be pit up against some of the best players in the world. There were also two players, Major and PiliPili, who had to be replaced due to visa issues and they were replaced by uThermal and iAsonu.

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Day one of IEM was started with a bit of technical difficulties, but once they were sorted out the games were underway. Unfortunately the round of 32 was seemingly a bit mismatched with every series ending in either a 3-0 or 3-1, while there were some good games a lot of the players seemed to be extremely nervous or just not playing to their full potential. The first series was Showtime vs Ia which I expected to be an alright series with Showtime winning in the end considering Showtime’s recent WCS spring victory, but Showtime ended up showing his dominance taking the series 3-0. The next game was PtitDrogo vs Masa two very well known high level players. Masa has been performing decently well in almost every tournament he has participated in this year, while Drogo has really struggled ever since his DreamHack win. Masa took a 2-0 lead in the series making it seem like it would be 3-0 however Drogo did manage to take a game off of Masa before losing 3-1. Up next we had Neeb vs Toodming which most people assumed Neeb would have a good chance at winning as he has shown very good PvZ in his recent performances. Neeb showed off his Adept heavy playstyles and took a very convincing 3-0 over Toodming at his home crowd.For the next set of players we had the first Korean in the tournament Hydra playing up against Enderr in a ZvZ. While everyone really expected Hydra to win by a landslide it still was a ZvZ with Enderr meaning anything could happen. Unfortunately Hydra did not care that it was a ZvZ and still ended up winning 3-0.

Hydra_WCS_S2_2015

Following their series we had Snute playing against uThermal which I think many people really favored Snute over uThermal. Snute has been playing very well as of late as well as placing decently well at each event, while uThermal has not really performed well outside of DreamHack Leipzig. This would be the first upset of the tournament as uThermal beat Snute 3-0 with some of his crazy aggressive builds and excellent reaper control. The next set was looking to be a much closer set as we did have Puck and Elazer to play. Personally I thought Puck had a slight edge, but looking at the stats I would say Elazer has been performing much better and more consistently lately. Throughout the series Elazer showed off his ability to take great engagements and being able to get his Lurkers in places that are very hard for the Puck to deal with giving him a 3-1 victory over Puck. Next up we had the other Korean participant violet playing against the Protoss player everyone either loves or loves to hate Has. Has opened up the first game with a cannon rush into mass oracle which beamed down each Queen, Spore, and Drone in sight causing violet to tap out giving Has a 1-0 lead and also generating a new meme all at the same time. Has opened game 2 with another forge gate opener while using a 4 pylon wall off at violet’s natural to try and set up cannons, however violet held the aggression pretty well nearly losing his natural but managed to save it and win. Game number two was pretty much the tale of the rest of the series with Has opening with a pylon wall at violet’s natural which would fail and then violet would go on to win the game taking the series 3-1. The last series of the Ro32 would be Nerchio against the last remaining Chinese player Cyan. Unfortunately for Cyan Nerchio has been playing out of his mind lately winning DreamHack Valencia, and performing very well lately. Nerchio asserts his dominance and takes a pretty swift 3-1 victory to end the Ro32.

Nerchio

After a seemingly lackluster Ro32 looking at the Round of 16’s lineup I have to say I was super excited for each series that in my opinion either player could win. The first series of the Ro16 was a PvT between Showtime and Masa two very well known players in what was expected to be a very exciting game. The series started with Showtime playing as solid as a rock deflecting all aggression and eventually steamrolling Masa giving him a 2-0 lead until it slowly started slipping away with Masa being able to get a few interesting wins to bring it back to 2-2. The final game of the series was very calm, and had Masa gearing up for a strong 2 base push which was heavily delayed by a warp prism flying into the main pulling the whole army back. This also delayed the third CC by a solid 30 seconds as the SCV building it was killed and Masa seemed to not notice. From then on things just kept getting worse and worse for masa before he eventually fell in the final game losing 3-2 sending Showtime on to the next round.Following the best series of the tournament thus far we had a very highly anticipated rematch between Hydra and Neeb which seems to be the mark of a good tournament to have these two play in the Ro16. As I said earlier Neeb has always been pretty good at PvZ and this did not change when playing Hydra as Neeb actually has won the last four encounters before IEM Shanghai. This series would prove no different as Neeb just really seemed to have Hydra’s number as he just pulled him apart taking a good 3-0 over Hydra to advance on to the Semis.

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Starting the other half of the Ro16 we had uThermal vs Elazer which seemed to be a pretty even matchup even with uThermal beating Snute uThermal had said he really just prepared to play Snute so he was not sure how the rest would go for him. Elazer on the other hand had a little bit of information as to what uThermal might try and do against him in the coming series. However uThermal overcame any obstacles that may have been in his path and took out Elazer with a 3-1 map score to go into the Semifinals. Up next was another ZvZ between Nerchio and violet, with both players coming off of a 3-1 win in PvZ did not really have too much information on the other as far as what they have been doing in ZvZ. Nerchio was the favorite moving into this series due to his recent performances being much better than violet’s, and Nerchio came out swinging with early Lings and Banes against violet giving him a lead eventually winning the first game. After that Nerchio had a decent game two but was blindsided by violet hiding roaches and hitting a swift timing with about 15 or more Roaches and killed Nerchio to tie the series. In the third game violet started with an early pool that was held relatively easily from Nerchio. This was a very back and forth game until violet made a huge Roach attack into the natural base of Nerchio killing the Spire and Lair of Nerchio which Nerchio cleaned up and then sent a full scale counter attack which traded pretty well with violet’s Roaches and was then held. After violet rebuilt his Roaches he decided to attack again which would prove to be a killing blow taking a 2-1 lead in the series. Game four was a standard ZvZ complete with massive Roach battles back and forth until violet took an unfavorable engagement losing a few too many units before Nerchio was able to move across the map and kill violet, tying the series 2-2 leaving just one more game. New Gettysburg would be the deciding map for this series, but neither player actually did any early pool stuff. The major difference would come when violet would take an early third base while Nerchio just throw down a Roach warren. Upon seeing this violet made a huge swell of Ling’s and sent them into the narrow bridge which Nerchio had blocked off and violet actually had enough lings to kill the blocking Queens and loses some drones and a few Roaches as well down to one Queen. All of this sets up violet to take a commanding Roach lead and he also takes out Nerchio’s third eventually taking Nerchio out all together sending violet into the Semis over our reigning DH champion!

Go Read Part2 HERE!

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